Mom sues TSA over request to strip search her transgender teen at North Carolina airport

·2 min read

A North Carolina mother is suing the Transportation Security Administration for a May 2019 incident at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in which she says her transgender teenager was pressed by employees to undergo a strip search.

According to a lawsuit filed by mother Kimberly Erway, her then-15-year-old daughter, Jamii Erway, was ordered to undergo the strip search after she registered a "false positive" at a security checkpoint. After a brief exchange, a TSA screener informed the two that Jamii would have to have her genitals inspected in a private room, per the lawsuit.

TSA's transgender passenger webpage states that upon entering the scanner, "the TSA officer presses a button designating a gender (male/female) based on how you present yourself." It also notes, "the machine has software that looks at the anatomy of men and women differently. The equipment conducts a scan and indicates areas on the body warranting further inspection if necessary."

The Erways are seeking a jury trial, unspecified damages and an injunction preventing a similar scenario from happening in the future. The mother is also suing an agency supervisor, identified as "Jane Doe."

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The lawsuit states that TSA workers told Jamii she couldn't leave until she submitted to a search – a violation of TSA policy, the Fourth Amendment, and state law rights of Jamii.

According to the lawsuit, a police officer was called over after Jamii didn't comply, which triggered her “panic, anxiety, fear, racing heart, shortness of breath."

In response to the airport incident, Kimberly Erway then rented a car and drove 600 miles to Rochester, New York, their home at the time.

A TSA spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday, citing pending litigation.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: TSA asks transgender teen to strip at RDU, North Carolina mom sues